I graduated with honors from Brandeis University with a degree in Near Eastern Judaic Studies; I spent my first year of rabbinic school in Jerusalem at Hebrew Union College (H.U.C.). I then studied for two years at the H.U.C. campus in Los Angeles where I received a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Letters. I was the student rabbi for a congregation in Butte, Montana. In California, I was the Student Rabbi for one year at a Deaf congregation where I learned about deaf culture and how to sign many of our Jewish prayers. After Los Angeles, I continued my rabbinic studies at H.U.C.’s New York campus while also taking a few classes at the Conservative Movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary. I received my rabbinic ordination in May of 2000. For two years, I taught courses at the University of Judaism. I have spent the past seven years as the rabbi of a small community, Congregation Merkaz Ha-Iyr in Central Phoenix. Here I have had the opportunity to lead Shabbat and holiday services and celebrations along with officiating B’nai Mitzvah and various life cycle events. I have spent more than 20 years in the Valley of the Sun having been the rabbi of Congregation Merkaz Ha-Iyr, the Director of Jewish Life at Pardes Jewish Day School, and the Director of Religious Education for Congregation Beth Israel. I have also been a part of the Phoenix Jewish community as the visiting rabbi of Beth El and the rabbi of their day camp, as the Judaic Programming Director of Camp Charles Pearlstein in Prescott, as the Rabbinic Intern at Temple Emanuel in Tempe, and as a Hebrew High teacher. I see my rabbinate as a teacher who fosters a love for Jewish observance, for Israel, for learning Torah, and for inspiring Jews to take action to fix the world—tikkun olam.
Leah Mundell, Phd.
I have been teaching religious school and working with b’nai mitzvah students practically since my own bat mitzvah (long, long ago). I love to sing and chant Torah and to help strengthen Jewish community. I am a lecturer in the Anthropology department at Northern Arizona University, where I also coordinate the Community Engagement Minor. In all these contexts, I hope to foster a respect for and curiosity about our own cultural traditions and the rich cultural diversity of which we are a part.
I am a junior at Flagstaff High School, where I run cross-country and play French horn in the marching band. I have been tutoring b’nai mitzvah students and helping to teach religious school at Congregation Lev Shalom for the past three years. I’m also part of the LevTY youth group and participate in NFTY events. I’m excited to help bring a sense of community to Jewish kids in Flagstaff!